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Barriers to Riches


  • Stephen L. Parente

    () (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)

  • Edward C. Prescott

    () (University of Minnesota)


Why isn't the whole world as rich as the United States? Conventional views holds that differences in the share of output invested by countries account for this disparity. Not so, say Stephen Parente and Edward Prescott. In Barriers to Riches, Parente and Prescott argue that differences in Total Factor Productivity (TFP) explain this phenomenon. These differences exist because some countries erect barriers to the efficient use of readily available technology. The purpose of these barriers is to protect industry insiders with vested interests in current production processes from outside competition. Were this protection stopped, rapid TFP growth would follow in the poor countries, and the whole world would soon be rich. Barriers to Riches reflects a decade of research by the authors on this question. Like other books on the subject, it makes use of historical examples and industry studies to illuminate potential explanations for income differences. Unlike these other books, however, it uses aggregate data and general equilibrium models to evaluate the plausibility of alternative explanations. The result of this approach is the most complete and coherent treatment of the subject to date.

Suggested Citation

  • Stephen L. Parente & Edward C. Prescott, 2002. "Barriers to Riches," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262661306, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:mtp:titles:0262661306

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Van Wijnbergen, Sweden, 1986. "On fiscal deficits, the real exchange rate and the world rate of interest," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 1013-1023, October.
    2. Tabellini, Guido & Alesina, Alberto, 1990. "Voting on the Budget Deficit," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 37-49, March.
    3. Tobin, James, 1969. "A General Equilibrium Approach to Monetary Theory," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 1(1), pages 15-29, February.
    4. Sutherland, Alan, 1997. "Fiscal crises and aggregate demand: can high public debt reverse the effects of fiscal policy?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 147-162, August.
    5. Menahem E. Yaari, 1965. "Uncertain Lifetime, Life Insurance, and the Theory of the Consumer," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 32(2), pages 137-150.
    6. Robert Summers & Alan Heston, 1991. "The Penn World Table (Mark 5): An Expanded Set of International Comparisons, 1950–1988," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(2), pages 327-368.
    7. Uzawa, H, 1969. "Time Preference and the Penrose Effect in a Two-Class Model of Economic Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 77(4), pages 628-652, Part II, .
    8. van Wijnbergen, Sweder, 1987. "Tariffs, Employment and the Current Account: Real Wage Resistance and the Macroeconomics of Protectionism," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 28(3), pages 691-706, October.
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    More about this item


    Total Factor Productivity; income differences;

    JEL classification:

    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence
    • P51 - Economic Systems - - Comparative Economic Systems - - - Comparative Analysis of Economic Systems


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